In Granada in 2005, there was a local bar nicknamed Pedophile Perch. The porch overlooked a main street, and everyone knew that this was the place where the foreign pedophiles hung out. Since then, many things have changed in Nicaragua. Pedophile Perch still exists, a little less obtrusive, and now, on a side street, but most expats know where it is located. Yet, with the arrest and deportation last month of Eric Toth, a former 3rd grade teacher in a private school in Washington D.C., my hopes are that Pedophile Perch will take a powder.
Eric Justin Toth Caught in Nicaragua
I’m proud of Nicaragua for taking a stand against foreign sex predators. Eric Toth was on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted list for two years, before a tourist recognized him in Esteli, Nicaragua. What I’m not so proud of are the comments of some expats and foreign tourists defending sex trafficking and blaming the locals for their circumstances.
In 2005, I wrote a post to a Nicaragua expat forum (big mistake!) about an incident that occurred between an underage Nicaraguan boy and an older gringo man. Instead of creating an awareness of the increasing problems in Nicaragua with foreign sex predators, the discussion ( if you can even call it a discussion) led to pointless posts with statistics thrown around like fast balls. The gist of the garbage slung on the forum was blaming the locals for their cultural silence, their need to prostitute themselves for their families, and personal attacks on me for broaching the topic of foreign sexual predators.
Here are a few jewels from this sparkling conversation:
“In the last few months one takes note of how many more “little boys” have arrived from Managua to make their business…but, generally, these “little boys” are not underage..but it happens…but christ, it happens in the White House every day…gypsy toes…wanna go work the coffee fields at 3 dollars a day..try it. You wouldn’t last one year..you wouldn’t last one week. I shan’t continue…my monthly supply of Guinness came yesterday….”
“I think that you are talking bullshit”
“Get a “frigging” life.”
” I’ve been in Nicaragua for 15 years and I don’t want to hear this thing here about child abuse on the “Atlantic Coast”. This thing does not happen here.”
“My wife and I feed hungry children every day. Please keep your stupid opinions to yourself; because you do not know what you are talking about when you post.”
“***** says that “Gypsy Toes” & ***** are probably Catholic and support their pediphile priests and bishops.”
Tim Rogers, of the Nicaragua Dispatch wrote an excellent three-part series on Sex Trafficking in Nicaragua.
1. New Beginnings: chronicle of a serial rapist.
2. Sex predators find easy prey in Nicaragua
3. Nicaragua’s culture of silence
Yet, reading some of the comments posted to his articles, made me wonder why some expats and foreign tourists still continue to defend this horrendous act? Is it denial?
“Adult prostitution is legal here and the women here are definitely not being trafficked although as the article says the ones that work here come here from other cities, and I suspect the girls from here go to other cities when they want to work in the sex trade. I have seen one underaged girl trying to work here and she had no takers.”
“As far as trafficking the women arrive here on buses and play on the beaches and do as they please and go home on the buses when they are want to. They have no handlers and do not even seem professional with few exceptions. They tend to be mothers with children to feed.”
“There is a double standard with the age of consent between the Nica men and us foreigners. Its also true that the Nica guys pay them very little or nothing at all. Its a national sport here and they call it “chavaliando”. Also girls from other cities do flock to SJDS, seeking the Euro/ Yankee dollar and of-course not to be judged in their home towns. Im sure there are some crimes committed involving under aged girls and trafficking but for the most part its locals committing them.”
Denial… a psychological defense mechanism that enables us to lie to ourselves. It’s a normal way of protecting our fragile egos. Yet, when denying reality facilitates the continuation of a harmful situation (i.e. pedophilia, sexual tourism, sex trafficking), it affects our choices and prohibits us from finding solutions.
The comments posted above are good red flags for denial. They send a message that condones these horrendous acts and fools us into believing that sexual predators, prostitution, and pedophilia are accepted norms in Nicaragua. Don’t be fooled into believing that these commentators have control over the situation and we are helpless to affect a change.
We have to change! We have to confront the harsh realities and make an effort to pull our heads out of the holes in which we have been blissfully surrounded. Pay attention to the statements of deniers because they contain very negative recurring themes ( i.e.” for the most part it’s the locals committing them”, “This thing does not happen here.”, or my favorite…”wanna go work in the coffee fields at 3 dollars a day…try it.”)
Keep deniers on your speed dial, especially if you think differently than them. Confront them with reality and question their assumptions. For we must change our attitudes to protect the innocent in Nicaragua and in the world.
As a side note: I’ve been writing this piece for several months…a word at a time. I think I’ve been afraid to post it because I don’t want to sound preachy. But, I am! And, I’m angry, which always fuels my writing rants. I hope I’m not just preaching to the choir. Foreign sexual predators are becoming a huge problem in Nicaragua. Basically, I think it’s all about supply and demand.
Thanks to Third World Orphans for the information about supply and demand.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO WOMEN AND CHILDREN?
* Devaluation of the girl child and discriminatory practices.
* Perceived responsibility of women and children to support families.
* Lack of educational, employment and vocational opportunities.
* Fragmentation of families: death of parent/s, husband, increases homeless women and children.
* Economic conditions, especially rural poverty, fueled by economic development policies and the erosion of agricultural sectors.
* Rural to urban migration and the growth of urban industrial centers.
* Move from subsistence to cash based economy and increased consumerism.
* Lack of laws and law enforcement.
* Criminal networks who organize the sex industry and recruit the children.
* Law enforcement /governmental complicity in the sex trade.
* Demands of foreign sex industries creating international trade in girls and women.
* Fear of AIDS, leading customers to demand younger girls.
* Early marriage and child marriage.
* Traditional and cultural practices, including the demand for virgins, the cultural practice of men patronizing prostitutes, inter-generational patterns of girls entering prostitution.
* Employers using the debt-bond (slavery) system, forced labor and child labor.
* Demand of sex tourists, pedophiles and the migrant labor force.
* International promotion of the sex industry through information technology.